I recently spent some time in the new 2018 Mazda MX-5 and while the new Miata is a blast to drive, one thing about it was absolutely infuriating.
Engine: 2.0L four-cylinder
Power: 155 hp, 148 lb-ft
Transmission: 6-speed manual or auto
EPA Fuel Economy: 26 MPG city, 33 highway,
CAN Fuel Economy: 8.9 L/100 km city, 7.1 highway
Price: (USD) $26,185
Price: (CAD) $33,825
It’s not a new feature or something newly revised for the 2018 model, but something I never realized in past tests. It’s the ever important blind spot monitoring system. It’s almost useless and very annoying.
Let’s start with the good parts of it though. When the roof on this convertible is up and in place, it can be somewhat tough to see what’s in your blind spot and what’s happening behind the car. While blind spots can be mitigated with proper mirror placement, the blind spot monitoring system can be helpful while the roof is up… although realistically, the MX-5 is so small, it’s more likely that the car is in someone else’s blind spot, rather than the other way around. Maybe a motorcycle could hide there if it was small and quiet enough.
Either way, the blind spot indicator can be fairly useful with the roof up. Little indicators light up on the side mirrors when there’s something lurking in your blind spot, and as you signal a lane change, the car beeps furiously at you, as it should.
However, with the roof down, you can see everything. There’s no blind spot and no reason not to see what’s happening around you. And the car is so small that it’s easy to slip in and out of traffic.
The only thing that hinders this whole process is the blind spot warning, which freaks out for seemingly no reason. The warning lights stay on well after you’ve passed anyone and when you signal the lane change, the car will start beeping at you, even though you have a ton of room.
The system seems to be a little slow in noticing when a car is or isn’t in the personal space of the MX-5, and as a result, it seems to be always beeping, even if you know there isn’t a car in your blind spot at all.
Fortunately, Mazda has a conveniently placed button to turn off the system, but then you have to remind yourself to put it back on when you raise the roof again.
Now the Good Stuff…
Now, don’t mistake me for saying the MX-5 is a bad car… it really isn’t. In fact, it’s been a favorite among the AutoGuide.com crew for many years, but it isn’t perfect and you should just keep the issues with the blind spot monitoring system in mind.
There’s much more to the MX-5 than just this blind spot monitor. In fact, for 2018, everyone’s favorite Japanese roadster gets a new look with a cherry red soft top.
I rarely keep the top up when driving a Mazda MX-5, but with this pretty red roof, it didn’t seem like a bad idea. In fact, I got more than a few glances with the roof up. Other AutoGuide.com editors wholeheartedly endorsed the new roof too, saying that it was a nice surprise on a car we thought we knew so well by now. It helps that the top accents the extra-cost snowflake pearl white paint that our tester is showing off.
It’s not the first time Mazda has dashed some color on the soft top of the MX-5. Back in 1999, the anniversary edition featured a blue roof, while special editions have been seen with grey or brown tops as well. It’s nice to see the tradition continuing.
You can also get a few new features inside the car like Recaro seats that feature leather and Alcantara as well as seat heaters, which is always handy on a cold spring or fall day.
There’s a newly updated infotainment system, which is simple to use but could be further updated to be more functional. It can only show one thing at a time, which means that making changes requires a few more clicks of the rotary knob.
The car has navigation and automatic climate control, to name a few of the luxuries. Alongside the beepfest that is the blind-spot monitoring system, the car also has a lane-departure warning system, which is less intrusive and annoying.
Otherwise, the fit is tight inside. Especially with the roof up, you might feel a bit claustrophobic, but fortunately, you can always get some fresh air when you drop the roof.
It’s hard not to love the ergonomics of all the controls. It’s like Fibonacci formula, a natural perfection that’s found between the position of the steering wheel, the gearbox, the pedals and more. It really helps you feel connected to the car and the driving experience.
What’s Powering this Droptop?
Under the hood is a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that makes 155 hp and 148 lb-ft of torque. It’s paired with a six-speed manual transmission that powers the rear wheels. The manual has a great feel, both with the throws and the clutch, but the gear ratios are extremely well done. Mazda somehow gets by without needing an overdrive on the manual model, which means the car still feels lively and fast despite the relatively low power numbers.
This gives the car a zippiness that’s hard to explain. The MX-5 may look like a cute little droptop, but it’s actually a raw and sporty speed machine that’s useful in everyday situations. You don’t need a long runway of asphalt to stretch its legs out and you can have fun in the corners as well, pushing the roadster at each opportunity.
The rear suspension has been revised as well as the power steering system to improve the clattery and jittery nature of sporty cars. It’s easy to enjoy every aspect of the car on the road, but it’s also impressive that you don’t have to do so at the expense of your fuel economy. You can easily see the EPA rating of 29 mpg combined even when pushing the car to its redline at every shift.
Much of that has to do with the car’s low curb weight. Tipping the scales at just 2,332 lbs, the MX-5 represents a contrast to every other car out there. So few sporty, rear-wheel-drive cars measure in at under 3,000 lbs, but the Mazda does that with room to spare. But being light does have a downside: The trunk isn’t very practical with its less than 5 cubic feet of space. This isn’t a grocery getter.
It’s better suited as a weekend toy. Starting at just $26,185 ($33,825 in Canada) for base models, it’s entirely reasonable.
The Verdict: 2018 Mazda MX-5 Review
Almost 30 years after the Miata debuted, it has become cliche to say that the MX-5 is a great car. It’s not perfect, as I mentioned with the beeping, but it’s still a blast to drive especially with the stylish red top.
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